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The "not very effective population checks" are a clear feature of the industrial revolution era. With unprecedented technological-medical progress and uncovered bonanza of energy resources, yeah, the population was generally growing exponentially indeed, including in wannabe countries. But can the progress be taken for granted? We are just entering an era of definite limitations and a scientific analysis of them.

Some 300 years of the industrial progress is very little in evolutionary terms. Its genetic impact is tiny, especially with the Darwinian selection actually weak (with almost everyone reproducing, and consistently more resources for each generation). It can hardly compare with millennia of humanoid evolution, touching frequently both the boundaries of extinction and overrun of enhabitted environment. Sustained non-hierarchal societies are still an exception for rare progress times, for what we know.

And right, academic knowledge of female choices is tiny. There are reasons to suspect that it would rather stay that small.

by das monde on Mon Jun 29th, 2015 at 10:09:20 AM EST
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The "not very effective population checks" are a clear feature of the industrial revolution era.
The entire recorded history of Europe disagrees with you about that.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 29th, 2015 at 12:05:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The subject of my statement was the industrial era, worldwide. All I imply about other times is that the exponential population growth is less clear for them.

The "entire recorded history of Europe" is an interesting case, especially since the Crusades. The ever cutting edge military "competition" complements Catholic birth rates nicely. The colonialist expansions were bringing resources to European imperial centers way before the industrial revolution, right. We can say that Europe has its own way of dealing with resource totals. In that way the European history  confirms rather than falsifies significance of resources.

by das monde on Mon Jun 29th, 2015 at 08:45:30 PM EST
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The "not very effective population checks" are a clear feature of the industrial revolution era.
implies very clearly that it was not a feature of the preceding epochs.

Which is wrong, as anybody who has even cursory familiarity with European economic and demographic history would know.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 29th, 2015 at 11:50:35 PM EST
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Rlight, that implies that it is not a feature of anything else, anywhere anywhen. And that there was no Europe exceptionality in the last thousand years.
by das monde on Tue Jun 30th, 2015 at 01:06:16 AM EST
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"The "not very effective population checks" are a clear feature of the industrial revolution era."

Human population has been growing exponentially since very early on ~ the industrial revolution break is in terms of the rate of growth.

And if that is growth burst in a transition from high birth rate / high death rate demographics to low birth rate / low death rate demographics, it may be masking the opposite move. There are a number of "developed" economies which are below replacement, despite having the resources to support population growth ... something which would not happen under the pre- industrial revolution demographics.

It can hardly compare with millennia of humanoid evolution, touching frequently both the boundaries of extinction and overrun of enhabitted environment

I was explicitly referring to one result of that evolution, homo sapiens [sic] sapiens [sic]. Looking at, first, the extensive population explosion over almost all habitats on the face of the earth, then the intensive population explosition which necessitated the development of intensive agriculture, and then the industiral revolution population explosion ... the empirical evidence seems to be that, broadly speaking, given human populations, and given the opportunity, then somewhere or other there is a human population that is exploding.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 1st, 2015 at 08:38:38 PM EST
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Human population has been growing exponentially since very early on
How early on? Seven billion is just 32 exponential doublings since Adam and Eve. Accepting the Biblical 6000 years, the populations must be growing at a meager 0.38% annual rate. (Wanna assume total K millenia? Take the K-th root 1.023, or roughly divide 2.3% by K.) Since when the humanity broke away from bio-economic limitations for primates?

The industrial evolution rate change was clear, indeed. Perhaps most populations were growing at >1% rate most of the time - but the "exceptional" setbacks are parts of the game, and their probability increases with the population number approaching habitat limitations. As for the modern demographic transition... I would not take it for granted. It is hard to delineate how much emancipation, austerities are natural or labored.

by das monde on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 06:29:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Wanna assume total K millenia? Take the K-th root 1.023, or roughly divide 2.3% by K.)

That's still exponential growth ... since from at the very latest the second diaspora from Africa (as its conceivable that the first diaspora along the southern Asian coasts to Australia was more or less linear growth).

Its not logistic growth if keeps on growing at a growing rate. Since, evidently, logistic growth at a ceiling population that falls short of the population to fill up Africa, Eurasia and the Americas at a hunter gatherer density would have left big chunks of one or more continents empty of humans ... as we see big chunks of multiple continents empty of pretty much any other single species of primate.

Its not logistic growth with a ceiling at hunter gatherer densities worldwide if the growth continues to lead to population densities that require the additional work of settled agriculture.

Discussing how many doublings its been since what some evidence, including genetic evidence, suggests was passage through a demographic bottleneck in southern Africa is not disputing whether or not its exponential growth ... its only about estimating the exponential rate.

As far as demographic transition ... I deliberately phrased it as a potential, rather than a certainty. Its hard to sit writing in Beijing, now at twice the population of my home state of Ohio and still growing, and take it as a certainty.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 06:47:06 AM EST
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BruceMcF:
Its hard to sit writing in Beijing, now at twice the population of my home state of Ohio and still growing, and take it as a certainty.

According to Rosling, China is at its peak. What is more, it has a 200 million decline in the pipeline as larger generations die and smaller are born.

Beijing will probably keep growing though, I think capital size is mostly a reflection of concentration of power.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 03:16:14 PM EST
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Its at a peak, which is going to cause a "restucturing" in many sectors, including the University sector (just read a China Daily article about Tsinghua and Peking University trying to steal each other's top applicants) ...
... but my comment was not regarding current trends and projections, but regarding how certain we can be about how closely the outcome will follow the projection. There are quite a large number of one child families with the child born when the mother is relatively young, and so over the coming decade a Baby Boom of fairly impressive absolute magnitude is feasible, even if social norms lean against it at present.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 10:08:55 PM EST
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The exceptional feature of humans is that they are apt to expand their resource base gradually or frequently. The industrial revolution is just the most momentous example. That allows humans to keep their "exponential" growth rate almost continuously. However, I would be interested to correlate the growth rate fluctuations  with resource "revolutions" and overshots, rises and falls of civilization centers. How direct are estimates of, say, the population estimates of the imperial Rome? Could we detect any demographic transitions then?  
by das monde on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 09:59:52 PM EST
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World population estimates, according to Livi-Bacci, A concise history of world populations:

10,000 BC - 6 millions
400 BC - 153 millions
0 - 252 millions
200 - 257
600 - 208 (Justinian plague)
1000 - 253
1200 - 400
1340 - 442
1400 - 375 (Black plague)
1500 - 461
1600 - 578
1700 - 680
1750 - 771
1800 - 954
1850 - 1241
1900 - 1634
1950 - 2520
2000 - 6236

das monde:

Perhaps most populations were growing at >1% rate most of the time

Looks that way, yes.

das monde:

but the "exceptional" setbacks are parts of the game, and their probability increases with the population number approaching habitat limitations

But it is not planned or genetic.

by fjallstrom on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 03:14:18 PM EST
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How evidence-direct are the estimates?

Let's translate the numbers into implied doubling periods:
10000 BC - 400 BC: 2055 years;
400 BC - 0: 556 years;
0 - 200: 7056 years;
200 - 600: minus 1311 years ("decay");
600 - 1000: 1416 years;
1000 - 1200: 303 years;
1200 - 1340: 972 years;
1340 - 1400: minus 253 years;
1400 - 1500: 336 years;
1500 - 1600: 306 years;
1600 - 1700: 427 years;
1700 - 1750: 276 years;
1750 - 1800: 163 years;
1800 - 1850: 132 years;
1850 - 1900: 126 years;
1900 - 1950: 80 years;
1950 - 2000: 38 years.

That is a wild variation. And the industrial "singularity" is staggering, isn't it?

For comparison, the implied biblical doubling period is about 190 years.

by das monde on Thu Jul 2nd, 2015 at 10:11:00 PM EST
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Post-1500 that's a stable superexponential trend. Prior to that, the resolution is too poor to distinguish between an exponential and a superexponential trend.

I cannot prove, but would not be surprised to find, that a large part of the superexponentiality of the post-1500 is simply an artifact of more fine-meshed census efforts. Getting better at counting almost always means you find more of what you are counting.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jul 3rd, 2015 at 03:56:19 AM EST
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das monde:
How evidence-direct are the estimates?

Livi-Bacci gets the numbers (except 1950 and 2000, those are from the UN) from Essai sur l'évolution du nombre des hommes on JSTOR.

by fjallstrom on Fri Jul 3rd, 2015 at 05:24:40 AM EST
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